Brooklyn Democratic Council Member Mathieu Eugene, a staunch advocate for immigration rights and protections, said on Monday that the City Council has adopted overwhelmingly three pieces of legislation that he sponsored calling on the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Congress to halt deportation proceedings for employment-based status holders who have lost employment due to COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a serious threat to public health on a global scale, and far too often it has put members of the immigrant community in a dangerous and untenable living situation,” Haitian-born Dr. Eugene, a physician by training, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life.
“The legislation I have sponsored, adopted overwhelmingly by the City Council, calls on The Department of Homeland Security and Congress to take proactive measures in halting all removal proceedings for employment-based status holders who have lost employment due to COVID-19,” added Eugene, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s Primary for Brooklyn Borough President in June.
“There are so many hardworking members of the immigrant community who have dedicated their lives to supporting the local economy and have been an integral part of the engine that keeps our city moving,” Dr. Eugene continued. “COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on their work and their ability to raise a family, and it is not right to put these individuals through removal proceedings when the process creates an unnecessary public health risk.
“I am honored to sponsor the following pieces of legislation that I feel are necessary to protect our immigrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Dr. Eugene said Resolution 1416 calls on DHS to halt all deportation proceedings for the length of the COVID-19 pandemic “as a means of restricting the global spread of this disease.”
Resolution 1417 also calls on DHS to place a moratorium on all removal proceedings for employment-based status holders who suffered a loss of employment during or due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eugene said.
He said Resolution 1418 calls on the United States Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that would permit employment-based status holders to retain lawful status, after loss of employment, if such loss was related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we have made significant progress towards widespread vaccination against COVID-19, we must remain keenly aware of its ability to mutate and spread rapidly, and it is important that we continue to protect our most vulnerable communities from infection and illness,” Dr. Eugene said. “That is why this legislation is necessary to help members of the immigrant community who have lost employment due to COVID-19 and would be placed in unsafe conditions through deportation.
“If we are going to defeat this horrible virus, we must implement more precautionary measures on all fronts, and that includes putting a halt to deportations for employment-based status holders during the pandemic until such time as it is safe for them to be returned to their country of origin,” he added. “These individuals are here with their families, and they represent the fabric of our country and are a vital part of the local economy.
“They should not be put in unsafe living conditions because they have lost work during a public health crisis,” the councilman continued. “Instead, we should allocate more resources to help these workers maintain their livelihood while in the United States.
“I believe it is our moral obligation to do so, and this legislation will better prepare this country for future public health emergencies that affect the immigrant community,” he said.